18.07.2017 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Asia-Africa Workshop: Building Resilience to Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability to Meet Water Security Challenges

Picture 1. Participants of “Building Resilience to Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability to Meet Water Security Challenges” Workshop, 10-11 July 2017

Langkawi, Malaysia, 10-11 July 2017

UNESCO Office Jakarta and UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP), in partnership with River Engineering And Urban Drainage Research Centre (REDAC) Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), organized Asia-Africa workshop on “Building Resilience to Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability to Meet Water Security Challenges”. The workshop is organised within the framework of IHP-VIII “Water Security: responses to local, regional and global challenges”.

The two-day workshop was attended by 34 participants from a total of 12 countries in Asia Pacific (Australia, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, People’s Republic of China, Philippines) and Africa (Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan), among them 47% women. The workshop brought together policy makers, UNESCO Natural Sciences Category 2 centres and institutes in Asia Pacific and Africa, UNESCO Chairs, Authorities in HELP river basin in Asia Pacific and Africa, IHP Malaysia local partners, as well as experts, universities, and other stakeholders.

The overall objective of the workshop is to improve understanding on the climate change impact on water resources and water-related disasters, and in this regards upscale existing local approaches in IWRM for water security in order to strengthen Asia-Africa cooperation. The workshop is supported by Malaysia-UNESCO Cooperation Programme (MUCP) MFIT and the UNESCO/Flanders Fund-in-Trust for the support of UNESCO's activities in the field of Science (FUST).

The workshop began with opening remarks from Prof Dr Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Office Jakarta, followed by Prof Dr Nor Azazi Zakaria, Director of REDAC USM, Dato’ Ir Haji Nor Hisham bin Mohd Ghazali, Director, Department of Irrigation & Drainage Malaysia on behalf of Malaysian IHP National Committee, and Ms Roslinda binti Mat Musa, on behalf of Malaysian National Commission for UNESCO. Following opening session, are key note presentations delivered on “Addressing Water Security: Climate Impacts and Adaptation Responses in Africa, Asia and Latin America and Caribbean” by Anil Mishra, Koen Verbist and Abou Amani of IHP Secretariat, and “Upscaling Water Security to meet local, regional and global challenges: project results” by Prof Dr Shahbaz Khan.

Picture 2: Prof Dr Shahbaz Khan delivering opening remarks

The workshop is organized under 5 technical sessions:   

  • Session 1:  Delivering IWRM through Modular Education and Water Planning
  • Session 2: Addressing challenges for Delivering IWRM
  • Session 3:  Drought and flood risk and management: vulnerability; monitoring, prediction and early warning; integrated drought and flood management
  • Session 4: IWRM and Water Security linked with Agenda 2030
  • Session 5: Climate Risk Assessment and Early Warning

The objective of the technical sessions is to share and improve knowledge on the impacts of climate change on water resources and water related disasters and on how the Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy (HELP) and Ecohydrology can be used as practical tools for delivering IWRM in order to manage those issues. At the end of technical session, an Asia-Africa policy dialogue session was organized to raise awareness at science-policy level and how to best translate the scientific knowledge into action. The policy dialogue session specifically aimed at generating recommendations based on the discussions in contribution to the path towards a sustainable future.

On day 1, session 1 discussed water management curricula developed by HTCKL, water footprint to raise awareness on the link “between consumption in one place and impacts on water systems everywhere”, a “river education center” and an integrated programme for river basins, based on Langat HELP River Basin discussions, and water competition issues (particularly for the case of Gurara River Basin) as well as development of water allocation mechanisms across the basin’s communities and users through water allocation studies. Session 2 discussed challenges for an integrated management of water, land and related resources for river basins, the importance of “correct” water pricing, and emerging ecohydrology approaches. Session 3 discussed disaster risk reduction measures, integrated governance (from social, infrastructure, economy, natural environment and policy aspects), effective policy measures for resolving climate change impacts particularly for the case of Lake Urmia, Iran, and the interventions made for climate adaptation in the case of Northen Pakistan: solar-powered drip for raising apple/vegetables orchards and piped water supply from glacier for irrigation on the foothills, - which worked out well as the technologies are simple, affordable, replicable, socially acceptable, environmental friendly and economically viable.

On day 2, for session 4, the following issues were brought into attention: water stress was noted as a serious global issue, particularly for Africa; most efficient use of water and more productive use of water were highlighted; ecohydrology has been highlighted by the speakers and becoming more important approach as it tackles human system; the need for paradigm change was also highlighted, from individuals, domestics, industries, government, politicians; and that correct data is necessary for the purpose of, inter alia, water balance assessment or forecasting, as currently cutting edge technologies are available. The reported melting snows of Kilimanjaro and overuse of Lake Chad result in the urgent need to utilize Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) for water security and to strengthen South-South Cooperation for developing adaptive capacity to climate variability and extremes to meet water security challenges. In session 5, challenges in managing disasters and flood were discussed, bringing case studies of the Philippines and Namibia, as well as irrigation practices for improving IWRM in China (with Ganfu Plain Irrigation District as the case study).

Picture 3: Participants during the workshop session

In summary, the following workshop progress was noted during discussions in the technical sessions:

  • Improved understanding of climate-induced water security problems in Asia Pacific and Africa, through the following discussions:
    • Identification of water competition problems at various levels
    • Water quality deterioration in urban and rural catchments
    • Climate and human-induced water problems such as floods, droughts, glaciers
    • The Need for constructive dialogue in transboundary river basins
    • Water governance issues
    • Water trading as a means of demand management
    • The use of unconventional water sources e.g. wastewater, desalinated water, water harvesting
  • Improved understanding of IWRM based on a variety of case studies in Asia Pacific and Africa, through the following discussions:
  • Discussions of lessons learned from extreme events (droughts and floods)
  • Sharing of perspectives on how to address water security problems

In the end, the workshop participants produced the following key recommendations as a way forward:

  • Multi-level IWRM implementation starting from the community level leading to integrated river basin management can provide paradigm shift in sustainable water management
  • Accountable water allocation and use, closed water system, and tariffs could be explored as possible demand management and sustainability drivers
  • Energy efficient, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and socially acceptable technologies for water supply and waste water management should be promoted.
  • Water knowledge centres, universities and chairs are recommended, to gather and synthesise data and information from various stakeholders, advise policy makers, disseminate to communities and engage the media.
  • Water knowledge centres and chairs should form strategic partnerships.
  • Enhance public awareness, improve water education and participation to address climate-induced water security problems.

After vote of thanks was delivered by Prof Chan Ngai Weng on behalf of REDAC USM, the workshop was subsequently closed by Prof Dr Shahbaz Khan, UNESCO Office Jakarta.

For more information and presentation materials: http://mucp-mfit.org/regional-workshop-building-resilience-to-cc-risk-and-vulnerability-to-meet-water-security-challenges/

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